Lebanon News

March 14 politicians lash out over Nasrallah's comments on Tribunal

BEIRUT: Friday’s address by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Israeli espionage and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has ignited a storm of criticism from March 14 figures.

Akkar MP Riad Rahhal, a member of the Lebanon First bloc, said recent statements by Hizbullah officials, crowned by Nasrallah’s address, along with recent incidents of tension in the south, indicated “anxiety” on the part of the resistance.

“Hizbullah is the only group in Lebanon that talks, raises doubts, and accuses the STL of being an Israeli project,” Rahhal said in a statement on Sunday.

“All of these statements have begun to sow doubts on the part of all Lebanese about the role of the party and its involvement in assassinations since 2004,” Rahhal said.

Nasrallah made a strongly-worded statement accusing the STL of being an “Israeli project” and focused on the recent discovery of Israeli agents and espionage networks, allegedly operating out of mobile telephone firm Alfa.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Tripoli MP Mohammad Kabbara praised the authorities for capturing a number of suspected agents for Israel, but said the arrests were being used to destroy the STL’s credibility.

“Some people want to use this security achievement by the Lebanese state, by linking the collaborators to international investigations into the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri,” Kabbara said.

“The attempts by some to pre-empt the [STL] indictment are generating doubts that these people have information that leads them to fear the issuing of an indictment … the agitation was clear in Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech,” he said.

Addressing Nasrallah directly, the MP said: “Threats do not produce evidence of innocence, but on the contrary, raise doubts and suspicions … Sayyed Hassan, [Hariri] was your partner in the victory of April [1996] against Israeli aggression. We now wait for you to be loyal to this man, who took part in this victory and protected the resistance.”

Koura MP Farid Habib, a Lebanese Forces official, criticized Nasrallah for “evaluating security organizations and classifying them as either delinquent or doing their job.”

“The rhetoric of treason accusations,” he said, “is more destructive than Israel’s efforts.”

Tripoli MP and Future Movement Ahmad Fatfat said questioning the integrity of the STL prior to the issuing any indictment was harmed national unity and stoked domestic tension.

He added that if Israel was capable of infiltrating the telecoms infrastructure as claimed, it would have prevented the discovery of its agents.

“I wonder why Israel didn’t wipe the data that led to the uncovering of all its agents; if Israel is truly capable of what is claimed, it would have protected its agents,” Faftat said.

Regarding who was behind the Cabinet’s decision to dismantle Hizbullah’s telecommunication network, Fatfat urged Nasrallah to demand answers from Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. “I believe those decisions were patriotic decisions, though they could be inappropriate to some parties,” he added.

Meanwhile, Metn MP Nabil Nicola, a member of the parliamentary minority, called Naasrallah’s remarks “logical and a political analysis par excellence.” He added that the espionage discoveries meant that Israel was capable of fabricating evidence of telephone calls.

For his part, Health Minister Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh said Hizbullah had exhibited cooperation and flexibility with the STL, “after it opened a new page in its work.”

“Nasrallah’s recent comments about [Lebanon] being targeted by Israel via the STL indictment remains better than his statement that the resistance is being targeted by “domestic” parties,” Khalifeh told a news website.





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